American Elephants

February 22 is George Washington’s Real Birthday, Not Some Ginned Up “President’s Day” by The Elephant's Child

Imagine, you just turned 43 years old, and suddenly you find yourself Commander in Chief of a ragtag American army, such as it was. The battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill had already been fought when Washington arrived in Massachusetts, and had established that the British could not break out of Boston. Once Washington placed the captured British cannon on Dorchester Heights, the British evacuated by sea.


Washington had been named Commander in Chief by the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in June 1775. He was forty-three years old. There was not yet any American army for him to command, only the militias ringing Boston, but the delegates of the increasingly rebellious colonies were seized by fury for action and for war. “Oh that I was a soldier,” wrote John Adams, a radical lawyer from Massachusetts. “I will be. I am reading military books. Everybody must and will, and shall be a soldier.”

Adams never became a soldier, but Washington had already been one. He had served in the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War twenty years earlier, rising to the rank of colonel. In his old age, Adams would describe Washington’s selection as a political compromise—a southern commander, to lead what would at first be a mostly New England force—engineered by congressional wise-men, including Adams. But Congress did not have many other officers to choose from, Israel Putnam, of the Connecticut militia, was, at 57, too old. Artemas Ward, the commander of the Massachusetts militia, was incompetent and suffering from the stone.
The state begins in violence. However lofty the ideals of a new country or a new regime, it encounters opposition, as most new regimes and countries do, it must fight. If it loses, its ideals join the long catalogue of unfulfilled aspirations.

At six o’clock on the evening of July 9, 1776, the soldiers of the main American army, stationed in New York, were paraded and read the Declaration of Independence. General George Washington, Commander in Chief, hoped this “important event” would inspire them, though when some soldiers joined a mob in pulling down a statue of George III, he deplored their “want of order.” Over the next two months the American army and its commander, orderly or not, were unable to offer much in defense of the Declaration’s sentiments. …

During the summer, the British assembled, on Staten Island and in the harbor, the largest expeditionary force of the eighteenth century: ten ships of the line, twenty frigates, and 32,000 regular troops. On August 22, most of those troops began moving to Gravesend Bay on Long Island, in what is now southwest Brooklyn. Anticipating a possible landing there, Washington had posted more than a third of his own force of 19,000 men on Brooklyn Heights, and on a line of hills to the south. But he expected the British to attack him on the harbor side of his position, where they could bring the guns of their ships into play. On the morning of the 27th, the British slipped a force through the hills five miles away in the opposite direction and hit the American front line from before and behind.
These are excerpts from Richard Brookheiser’s Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington, which he calls a moral biography, which has two purposes: to explain its subject, and to shape the minds and hearts of those who read it—by showing how a great man navigated politics and a life as a public figure. Brookheiser says “If Washington’s contemporaries were too willing to be awed, we are not willing enough. …We have lost the conviction that ideas require men to bring them to earth, and that great statesmen must be great men. Great statesmen are rare enough in their world. We believe they are mythical, like unicorns.” They are not.

According to recent studies, our kids don’t know anything about George Washington, nor do most adults. There is some speculation that the problem is big fat books. People are more apt to read thin books that don’t scare them about the time involved. Answering that need is a new biography by the great British historian Paul Johnson. The paperback is only $8.71, and a hardback is available.

ADDENDUM: The picture above is a forensic reconstruction of Washington as a General, and Commander in Chief. Getting a likeness is hard. You get one thing just a little off, and you have lost the resemblance. Washington’s skin was pale, we are told, and he burned in the sun. I don’t think the tricorn hat gives even as much protection as a baseball cap, so I’m sure he appeared much more weathered, with squint lines (no sunglasses). His real hair was reddish. But nasty Stuart Gilbert did him real dirt down through the ages by overemphasizing the distortions of false teeth, and getting a poor likeness. Remember that, every time you look at a one dollar bill. It was deliberate.


In the Bleak Midwinter, for the Winter Solstice by The Elephant's Child
December 21, 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: England, Freedom, Heartwarming, Music, Politics | Tags: , ,

For the winter solstice, the first day of Winter, and for my father’s birthday.  I miss him.

Playing With The Notion of What it Means to Be Human by The Elephant's Child

If you are not familiar with Melanie Phillips, you might enjoy her columns. She is a long time British journalist, and a sharp observer of the world.

If you want a break from the spectacle of Britain tearing itself apart over leaving the European Union, you can upset yourself instead watching the spectacle of the western world tearing apart the very notion of what it is to be a human being.

The knee-jerk bullying, victim-group sectarianism and repudiation of reason itself over transgenderism defy belief. The Times (£) reports that a lesbian Labour party women’s officer was allegedly subjected to months of harassment as a “Terf” — a derogatory term for “trans exclusionary radical feminist” – because she took issue with aspects of transgenderism.

Intimidation by transgender activists, in the laughable cause of promoting greater tolerance and inclusivity, has suddenly become the new norm. Examples – such as the Christian maths teacher who was suspended for addressing as a girl a female pupil who identifies as a boy – are coming thick and fast.

Little kids usually go through a period when they fantasize about being someone other than who they are — like in reality a princess in disguise, waiting to be truly recognized. There have been lots of children’s books based on just that fantasy. One of the earliest was Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. But where this current idea sweeping society here and in Europe that you can be whoever you feel like being comes from is a serious question. Melanie Phillips addresses it head on.

Bodily dysphoria appears in many forms. There are people who come to believe that they are really cats, or that one of their limbs is bad or  diseased and must be removed, sometimes going as far as removing the limb themselves. But now we are having young mothers decide that when their daughter prefers to climb trees or play with toy trucks, it’s an indication that she is transgender, and encourages the confusion. This is child abuse. Transgenderism is a disorder of the brain, not the body. It requires psychiatric help. Included in Melanie Phillips article is a link to the American College of Pediatricians and a paper on Gender Dysphoria in Children.

I posted a video of a young British mother who was doing just that, in the belief that she is doing the right thing for her child.  There are a lot of problems in our country and in the world that deserve our attention. Why are we wrapped up in a world of who sexually abused whom and how much and how many years ago, and when do we move on to the next frenzy? Is this all just a journalistic creation to keep our attention glued to their desired themes? Can we get back to reality or are we stuck in this weird world?

The Passing Span of the Years –Some of Them by The Elephant's Child
November 6, 2017, 6:19 am
Filed under: England, Environment, Europe, France, History, Immigration, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags:

1066: The Norman Invasion, William the Conqueror, The Battle of Hastings.
1215;  Magna Charta
1348-1350: The Black Death, 1/3 of Europe Died
1350-1600: The Renaissance, Best Weather Known to Man
1227-1453: The Hundred Years War (France, Crecy, Potiers, Jean d’Arc)
1450-1850:The Little Ice Age
1455-1485: Wars of the Roses: Lancaster v. York
1502: The First Watch – telling time
1517: Martin Luther,  1532: Calvin, 1541: John Knox.
The Reformation
1519-1535: Spanish Conquest
1533: Henry VIII leaves Catholic Church Marries Anne Boleyn
1542: First Western Entry to Japan
1588: The Armada
1603: Queen Elizabeth dies
1642-1660: Roundheads v. Cavaliers. Cromwell
1620: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock
1630: Winthrop Fleet Arrives in Massachusetts Bay
1675-1678: King Philip’s War or Metacomet’s Rebellion
1773: Boston Tea Party 1775: Paul Revere, Bunker Hill
1760-1791: The American Revolution
1776, July 4: The Declaration of Independence
1787: The Constitution, 1791: The Bill of Rights
1799: Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor
1804-1815: The Napoleonic Wars 1815: Waterloo
1846: The Irish Potato Famine
The Crimean War
1859: Charles Darwin: The Origin of Species
1867: Canada Becomes a Dominion
1899-1902: The Boer War
1903: The Russian Revolution 1918: Nicholas Abdicates

Leaving a lot out, of course. A quick ten centuries,

A Quick History of the American Revolution by The Elephant's Child

I like timelines or chronologies that tell you just where and when the events of history took place. It gives you a sense of history as it happened and what was happening at the same time elsewhere in the world. So you will see one here now and then, and I hope you find them useful.

So lets start with the 1765 Stamp Act, passed by Parliament on March 22, 1765. It imposed on all American colonists a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. The money collected was to be used to help pay the costs of defending and protecting the American frontier near the Appalachian Mountains, and 10,000 British troops were to be stationed on the frontier for this purpose. It wasn’t the cost that was so offensive, but the standard it seemed to set, that Britain could impose a tax without the consent or approval of the colonial legislatures. This was a tax on ships papers,legal documents, licenses, newspapers, other publications and even playing cards. That started things:
1767: Townsend Acts (import taxes on tea, glass, and products from England)
1770: The Boston Massacre (Colonists rioted to protest English soldiers there to protect British commissioners and the Townsend taxes) 5 colonists
killed, including Crispus Attucks, an escaped slave.
1773: Boston Tea Party
1774: The Intolerable Acts and the First Continental Congress
1775: Rhode Island abolished slavery.
Paul Revere’s Ride to warn Lexington and Concord
Battle of Bunker Hill
1776: Declaration of Independence.
Battle of Long Island (August)
Battle of Trenton   (December 25)
Washington crosses the Delaware R. (Dec. 26)
1777: Battle of Princeton (Jan. 3)
Burgoyne captures Fort Ticonderoga
Articles of Confederation
Saratoga: Sept. 19, and October 7.  Victory!
1778: American Colonies sign treaties with France and Holland,
reject British peace offer.
1779: John Paul Jones on Bonhome Richard defeats Serapis.
1780: Charleston Falls
Camden Aug 16, Kings Mt. 7 October, Cowpens, Jan 17
1781: Cornwallis Surrenders at Yorktown, October 19.
1789: George Washington chosen president
1799: George Washington dies of strep throat
1789-1793: The French Revolution

Natural Selection and the Character of the American People by The Elephant's Child

Never was there a more outrageous or more unscrupulous or ill informed advertising campaign than that by which the promoters for the American colonies brought settlers here. Brochures published in England in the seventeenth century, some even earlier, were full of hopeful over-statements, half-truths and downright lies. Gold and silver, fountains of youth, plenty of fish, venison without limit. How long might it have taken to settle this continent if there had not been such slick promotion. How has American civilization been shaped by the fact that there was a kind of natural selection here of those people who were willing to believe in advertising?

………………………………………………………..From Hidden History
by Daniel Boorstin

Good Speech by The Elephant's Child
October 3, 2017, 6:02 am
Filed under: England, France, History, Military, Politics | Tags: , ,

Henry V  by William Shakespeare

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, will
stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son:
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d:
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

……………………..Victory over the French at Agincourt 1415

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